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News >  Education

Spokane Public Schools postpone plan to move some sixth-grade classes following parent concern

Jan. 25, 2017 Updated Wed., Jan. 25, 2017 at 6:32 p.m.

In response to a proposla for new multifamily housing developments, Spokane school administrators are recommending changing the attendance boundaries of the development area from the Hutton/Sacajawea/Lewis & Clark boundary area to the Audubon/Glover/North Central boundary. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
In response to a proposla for new multifamily housing developments, Spokane school administrators are recommending changing the attendance boundaries of the development area from the Hutton/Sacajawea/Lewis & Clark boundary area to the Audubon/Glover/North Central boundary. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

A proposed plan to move the sixth-grade classes of three Spokane elementary schools up to the middle school level has been postponed following parent concern.

The plan, which would have gone before the school board Wednesday night, called for Hutton, Finch and Holmes elementary schools’ sixth-grade classes to move.

Jennifer Schneider, who has two children at Hutton Elementary, said that while she isn’t against the idea of moving the sixth-grade class to Sacajawea Middle School, parents weren’t given enough information or time.

“This is your recommendation but this is the first you’ve ever spoken to us,” she said. “There should have been a better process.”

Parents at the three schools received notification from the district this week of the potential change. The notification to Hutton Elementary parents was sent Tuesday morning, a day later than those sent to Finch and Holmes families.

“Many parents were unhappy that it was presented to them without a whole lot of notice to get to the board meeting” scheduled for Wednesday night, Schneider said.

District spokesman Kevin Morrison said the grade configuration change was recommended by district staff to deal with overcrowding.

A combination of state mandated K-3 class size reduction, the implementation of all-day kindergarten and increased housing development is stretching Spokane Public School’s capacity.

“Hindsight is always great,” Morrison said. “But once again, when you develop a bond plan it’s a six-year cycle.”

Deana Brower, Spokane Public Schools board president, said she heard from about 15 parents raising concerns about the move. One common concern was that the change wouldn’t give this year’s current fifth graders enough time to mentally prepare for middle school.

“I believe staff are making recommendations that are best for our system,” Brower said. “But sometimes parents see thing a little bit differently.”

The district made a similar decision three years ago when Ridgeview Elementary’s sixth grade class moved to Salk Middle School. Brower said that move didn’t elicit any concern.

“This time we had more feedback,” she said. “When we hear from the community like that, it gives us reason to pause. And we should.”

Although Hutton, Finch and Holmes won’t have a reconfigured grade structure, there will likely be changes to deal with crowding, Morrison said. Those changes could mean losing some dedicated science or art classrooms, or having teachers share rooms.

Schneider said that’s a bigger concern. The school, which underwent a major remodel two years ago, is already at student capacity. And that seems wrong, she said.

“My bigger question is this is a brand-new building and we were being told that it was built for growth,” she said. “What happened there?”

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